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INTRODUCTION One of natures most spectacular phenomenons to date is the once mysterious aurora This dazzling show of lights has been working its magic for people around the world for several years But few know the cause of this amazing light display It is the purpose of this report to reveal this mysteryC a mystery that scientists aspired to solve for nearly 300 years WHAT IS AN AURORA An aurora is a luminous atmospheric phenomenon that can be seen most frequently above 60 North or South latitude and sometimes spills over to other parts of the world It consists of rapidly shifting patches and dancing columns of light of various colours Dramatic displays occur around spring and fall equinoxes but the aurora can be seen any cloudless night the best time being around midnight in the winter It is named according to its location Aurora Borealis meaning the northern lights and Aurora Australis meaning the southern lights The general name for both is Aurora PolarisC since both displays occur at the earths poles WHAT CAUSES AN AURORA For many years the ideas about what causes an aurora were left to old legends and unsubstantiated theories The inuit believed that the northern lights were the spirits of dead relatives dancing around in the sky while the Vikings believed that they were caused by a fire on the edge of the world In the fourteenth century Aristotle described the auroras as jumping goats caused by the earths vapours being set on fire by meteors Later on in 1707 a Norwegian physicist claimed that they were caused by steam and smoke that escaped from a heat source beneath Greenland It was not until the late 1950s that scientists finally discovered the true cause of the aurorasC Solar Wind Solar Wind Approximately every eleven years explosions erupt from sun spots creating what are called Solar Flares These flares can extend tens of thousands of kilometres high
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